I just read Donald Ray Pollock’s debut story collection, Knockemstiff, which takes place in rural southern Ohio, in a town of the same name as the book. The stories are dark, deadly, and mythic depictions of something more than what you’d even call small town Ohio, a sort of gothic revision of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. Pollock’s voice is a fine-tuned instrument, and his depiction of rural, lower class life in Ohio is frightening and real despite the illusory nature of the prose. I can’t recommend another book at this moment more.
Pollock himself seems to be an interesting person. He worked in a paper mill in southern Ohio from age seventeen for thirty-two years, and then decided he needed to write. He’s in the MFA program at Ohio State University. I hope to meet him some day. He sounds amazing, and you can hear for yourself in this interview he did with Chuck Palahniuk, a writer who he has a bit in common with, in terms of looking at dark, strange behaviors in people, and also with the background of growing up in rural, working class areas of the United States. They have a conversation about this in the interview, and I found myself nodding, knowing exactly what they meant. The interview is one of the most genuine and interesting ones I’ve heard in a long time–they talk about so many different topics–so take a listen.
Here’s the New York Times review of the book, too.
Ever read Lewis Hyde’s famous book The Gift? It’s in its twenty-fifth anniversary edition this year, and it’s still relevant to artists living and working in what continues to be our increasingly commercial market culture. Hyde is a proponent for a creative commonwealth, of sharing and giving as an essential part of creation. His ideas are radical for those who have invested heavily in a propertied culture, but they carry their own logic. Recently he’s been interviewed by KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt. Have a listen. It’s a great interview in which he talks about these ideas and what sorts of circumstances a young person needs in our current culture to become an artist of any sort, and what circumstances we’ve created that prohibit people from becoming artists.
Viriginie over at The Literary Detective wrote about One for Sorrow on her French blog last month, and in between then and now she interviewed me for a new series of author interviews that she would like to start. Here are the results of our interview across the ocean. She asked really great questions, and having done a number of interviews about One for Sorrow in the past few months, I can say assuredly that they were great. You can read our interview en francais too.
Today Ms. Bond over at Shaken and Stirred posted an interview with me for the Winter Blog Blast, and tomorrow Colleen Mondor will be doing the same at her blog Chasing Ray.
I’ve been doing so many interviews lately, I’m not sure if I’m repeating myself or dreaming of answering questions, or what. Today I wrote responses to an interview for a website in France, and then, in a moment of confusion, deleted the answers, somehow thinking that I had emailed them to my interviewer. When I realized what I’d done (six hours later) I ran up to my office at the university and turned on the computer, hoping to find the deleted file in the computer’s recycle bin. It was empty. Apparently the university computers are set to empty contents daily. Now when I rewrite those answers tomorrow my sense of deja vu will be even more pronounced.
Sweet dreams. And see you at Chasing Ray tomorrow.
Jeff Vandermeer does interviews with authors who have books that have recently come out. He calls his interview series Walking the Plank, and asks the writer questions in an interrogative form similar to that of being stuck out on a plank with many pirates pointing their sharp swords into your chest or back, depending on the pirates. I am totally the wrong person to place on a plank though; if pirates set me out on one, I would probably just jump into the ocean of my own free will because that’s how I roll. Or I would attempt to evade their interrogation by answering with zen-like koans, in an attempt to confuse them. And so, since there is no ocean to jump into online, my plank interview on Jeff’s blog is decidedly evasive and zen-like. You can read it by clicking here.
An interview I recently did with Iain over at Yatterings has been posted today. He asked some really cool questions about the novel, process, interstitiality, influences, and short stories. Hope it’s interesting if you pop over there and read.
Hope you have a good Sunday. I’m all about taking it easy today and pretending like Monday is not going to come.
Please help me learn how to speak without saying “um” all the time. And without, um, having to take classes for it, ’cause that doesn’t sound really fun.
Hope everyone is having a good holiday weekend. The book release party was really awesome, and I’ll be writing about it and posting some pictures of the art and attendees sometime this week, but for now I’m going to post this link to the blog for the radio show Lincoln Avenue, hosted by Dr. Sherry Linkon. Sherry recorded an interview with me that will air this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and you can listen to it by visiting WYSU’s homepage. At the top of the page is a “Listen to WYSU” button. If you hold your cursor over that, it’ll give you the option of listening to it with a couple of different media streamers. Choose whichever one your computer has installed, and you’ll be hearing WYSU’s very NPR-like station live. The show will be archived afterwards, so if you miss it on Wednesday, eventually you’ll be able to listen to the archived version when it goes up. Sherry asks good questions, and I think it might actually be an interesting interview. Let’s hope I don’t sound too silly!
I’m being interviewed over at the Swivet on August 28th, when the book comes out, by LaGringa. But she’s posted a preview of the interview today. She’s going to be giving away copies of One for Sorrow, too, so I’ll make sure to remind you all to go over there and get one when the interview goes up. Don’t know if you have to do anything in particular, answer a question, be the first four to comment, get an audition for Survivor and make the cast, etc. But if you’re the sort of person who’s thinking, I’m not really willing to pay for a book by that guy, but a free book is another case entirely, be sure to read The Swivet on August 28th.
I came across this really good interview with my city’s mayor (click on the February 8th Smart City radio interview under the Broadcasts section), talking about the history of Youngstown and the current situation here, as the community attempts to restructure and revitalize after decades of economic and political disintegration. It’s a very different story here than what the traditional narrative of American cities tells, but it’s not that unheard of either. Cities that have suffered disaster, both man-made and natural, are dealing with this same scenario: Detroit, St. Louis, New Orleans. Despite the economic condition of a city like Youngstown being so bad, though, right now I’ve never lived anywhere before surrounded by so many creatively stimulate and stimulating people. It’s a beginning, but that’s better than an end.